A Lean Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, so I thought I’d depart from the usual subject areas for this blog to ponder how one might achieve a lean Thanksgiving.

            And no, I don’t mean preparing a low-fat meal. I’m talking about applying lean principles to make preparation of Thanksgiving dinner easy and efficient.

            Now I have heard of male executives schooled in lean getting into trouble with their wives for doing just that. Apparently the wives didn’t appreciate being told how to organize their kitchens. So if you are not the person who actually does the cooking, take that into account before you try this at home. 

            I did a little research on the Internet to see if there was anything that might apply here. I found some articles offering a few pearls of wisdom.

            One you read frequently is to, whenever possible, prepare ingredients in advance, preferably the day before. That is consistent with lean principles – certainly one of the tactics of quick changeovers is to have everything ready to go before the changeover actually occurs. (OK, we’re not talking about changeovers here, but you get my point.)

            Another that I liked was to let other people do the small stuff. I’ve certainly assisted my wife by doing my share of peeling, chopping and the like. And that is consistent with the lean principle of having each person in a cell perform a specific set of tasks. A parallel thought is to have guests simply bring some of the dishes.

            What goes on in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day might be viewed as a high-variety, low-volume value stream. A variety of different products are being made, each in low volume. Has anyone ever tried to create a turkey day value stream map?

            Certainly scheduling is important here, as different dishes take different lengths of time to prepare and may have overlapping demands on kitchen resources, such as utensils, pans and the stove.

            Another critical element is cell (read: kitchen) design. All the chef’s tools need to be close by, arranged in the right sequence and easy to access.

            If you want to see an example of the value of these principles in the kitchen, try watching the television program “Top Chef” on the Bravo cable network. It’s a culinary version of The Apprentice. You’ll notice that some of the contestants have no trouble completing a given show’s challenge within the allotted time while others scramble and end up with just a few seconds left.

            In any event, I don’t expect you to spend tomorrow thinking about lean. Let me simply offer a Thanksgiving wish that your holiday consists of good food, good times with family and friends, and as little stress as possible.

            That’s it for this week. I’ll see you all on Monday.


1 comment:

Ralph Bernstein said...

11/22/2006 3:42:16 PM
Re: A Lean Thanksgiving
By: dcbliss

Your 3rd paragraph said it all - "wives didn't appreciate being told how to organize their kitchens" - as we know from our Lean imlementation successes and failures, people being "told" what to do doesn't work as well as involving them in the redesign of the process. Lean is about culture and atmosphere, as much or more so than tools.